Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy To Be Scone

I went to Europe last week. It was, in a word, amazing. I’m sure that I will write about it for the next fortnight whilst I am dreaming of hot scones painted in clotted cream. Ahhh....England.

I’m kind of whacked out from the 22 hours I spent awake and flying yesterday, so I’ll leave the smart and/or funny stuff for later. But I wanted to say hullo to all of you, my online pals and share my wisdom shavings. Little thin strips of something bigger, that is.

Anyways, let’s get started, shall we?

Lessons from London:

1. Europe’s Melting Pot
Forget what your history textbook or lovely anchorwoman says about America being the Melting Pot. I’m sure that this was true long ago when white powdered wigs were still considered masculine. But now....not so much. I heard every language, saw every color, tasted every kind of food. Well, not really on the food. I kept meaning to get to the Indian take-away joints, but scones kept calling out my name. But the different kinds of food were available, even though I stuck to white carbs the whole time. America’s Melting Pot only exists in the sense that if you mix all of your watercolors together, you come up with the same color all around...London has lovely pots of red, brown, yellow, scone, you name it.

2. Umbrellas do not work
Rain falls from above. Thus, if you place a barrier betwixt your head and the rain from above, you will stay dry? Alas, not so. Rain falls up and sideways and down and sometimes just for fun...rain manages to do all of these things when you are INDOORS. Cheeky British rain.

3. London Underground is a Democrat
Yes, that is a stupid statement on many levels. But when you ride on the tube, you see businessmen with oiled hair (ew) and Italian leather tasseled loafers sitting next to a bedraggled-looking-pants-are-too-big American tourist....I mean, some poor person...and they are just sharing their mourning commute. Poignant realization, at least for me. I think that there would be more understanding between those of differing economic/racial/social/ groups if they had to SEE each other and SIT next to each other and god forbid TALK to each other. All of a sudden you realize that they are PEOPLE for crying out loud and not LAZY or DIRTY or SNOBBISH. OK, some of them are dirty. I don’t know why they detest deodorant. At least that transcends class distinction. Crikey, my nose has never been so offended.

4. Scones have healing power
Yes, they do. If you are sad or tired or lonely or happy or content or are feeling any emotion whatsoever, scones carry you along on a river of butter and sugar to a happy place where only good things happen. Unless you eat too much Happy Scone and then you hurt from the inside and swear you’ll never eat again. Just walk around a bit, the feeling will pass. And when it does, go back inside from whence you came and ask for more Happy Scone and this time add more cream. It is a little known fact that without scones and surely without clotted cream, the British would be more emotionally constipated than they already are.

5. Harrods is Hell
At least, it was for this poor bedraggled pants-are-too-big American tourist. It was a labyrinth of small rooms that kept you moving slowly inward to what must have been a pulsating brain that would suck out your wallet guts until you had nothing left but Marc Jacobs clothes and a vague smile. Harrods only redeeming quality was the pastries. That were filled with....cream. And dusted with sugar. Ahhhh, I must have gained 8 pounds. Doesn’t explain why my pants kept falling down though. Perhaps the wind? It was very gusty over there.

6. British accents soothe the soul
Now, for this to be true....you can’t actually be British. The British don’t think they have an accent, do they? Maybe if they do, they find it soothing. But they sound so lovely and lilting or lovely and crass or lovely and condescending in a way that makes you want to say something stupid so they condescend to you again. I was on a plane from Paris to London, and the plane was the size of my desk. Needless to say, every time the pilot sneezed our plane dipped about 8 feet and caused my stomach to flip over its latest installment of Happy Scone. I am afraid of planes, and the dipping plane made me...can you guess? So I pulled out one of those informative laminated cards that tell you what to do if the plane crashes into the water and you DON’T die (has this ever happened in the history of planes?) and began fanning myself to stay calm. The lovely flight attendant came by and told me in her beautiful, calming, lilting and condescending voice that I was making a scene, everyone was looking at me, and she would stop making a scene if she was me. If someone from Wyoming said this to me, I would have told her where to put the laminated card of stupidity. But instead I said ’ok’. And then proceeded to laugh harder than I have since I pretended to have a German accent in front of a group of people who turned out to be...(who could have known?)....German.

7. History makes me calm
There is something so very comforting about seeing a church that has existed for a thousand years. It reminds me that I am small, that I am just a very tiny part of a big big thing, and this knowledge somehow puts me at ease. It is quite like standing on the beach; you can’t really explain why, but you feel enlightened and peaceful and still. I like this feeling, and I found it all week long peeking out at me from old church windows and gilded gates.

8. Inspiration is a pub visit away!
I sat at the pub where Lewis and Tolkien and Sayers sat and compared notes. I had fish and chips and a frothy beverage and the air positively crackled with literary electricity. I’m hoping that I’m still electrified with all the jetlaggednessivity wears off and I can put a pen to paper without wondering why the pen is not covered in clotted cream.

9.Porridge is fun
I eat oatmeal pretty routinely, and would not pay to eat it in a restaurant. But call it porridge and I’m digging out four pounds (money, not fat) to make it mine. New words make old things new again. ’Chips’ are not the same as fries from McDonald’s. ’Porridge’ is quaint. Having lots of ’pounds’ makes me happy, whilst having pounds does not! Viva la change!

10. Jetlag
Makes typing difficult and thinking of a tenth thing for this list harder than climbing the Eiffel Tower (which I did with my own two tired feet). I’m sure I’ll have more to say tomorrow. For now I’m going to nurse myself through my Happy Scone withdrawal.

Cheerio and pip-pip!

Glad to be home. Or, at least, glad to be with my friends and family again. Now let’s all move to Oxford!

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